jesus, politics, justice, mission & life

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Reflections on “The Myth of a Christian Nation”

If that title doesn’t immediately pull you in, I don’t know what does.

I finished The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd a bit ago and after letting it sink in, I’d like to share some of the things that stuck out to me.  Brandon Jones, a good friend of mine (and a great resource) now living in Cape Town, let me borrow his copy of this book a couple months ago.  I’ll admit that I almost gave up on the book.  It started slow and was often repititious.  Not helping is that I’ve read a few other books with similar messages and themes.  However, the book really picked up towards the middle.  Boyd really started taking on some huge issues in a way that was confrontational but also well-thought, humble and in my opinion…just right.

Boyd’s begins by sharing his testimony of a time in 2004 in which he shared a sermon series entitled “The Cross and the Sword.”  In these messages he outlined the dangers of siding with any political party, agenda or ideas.  Because of this series, about 20%  of his congregation left – a sign that he had stumbled upon something people may not want to hear.  Throughout the first half of the book, Boyd talks about what he calls the “tit-for-tat” kingdom.  He tells the story that the world finds itself in, one where governments, countries and individuals repay each other evil for evil.  He compares and contrasts the Kingdom of this world and Kingdom of the Cross.  He asks his readers what it mean to be part of a “power under” kingdom rather than a “power over” kingdom.

Throughout the book, Boyd takes on many of the popular views the majority of christians in the Bible belt hold dear and shreds them apart (i.e. abortion, homosexuality, war, the popular notion that the U.S. is a Christian nation, etc.).  Though he may be looked at as a pacifist, Boyd emphasizes the values of serving and sacrificing for others as opposed to dominating and oppressing them.  He ponders the ideas of blessing and loving our enemies, not just on an individual level, but also on a global level.  Perhaps my favorite idea of Boyd’s (but really an idea found in Matthew 7) is that we should look at everyone with a large wooden plank in our own eyes and a speck of dust in the eyes if our enemies.  Imagine if we, as believers, held that kind of humility when we approached the major social issues in our country.

Perhaps Boyd is most compelling when he makes the case that the issues that many Christians believe are ruining the Christian fiber of our nation are not the issues at all.  He even argues that if we are to define a Christian as one that looks like Jesus, the U.S. has never been a Christian nation.  But Boyd doesn’t just tear down without ideas for hope.  He finds hope in looking like Jesus.  How do we become a nation that looks like Jesus?  We bless our enemies (offensive when applied to our current enemies), we sacrifice for the well-being of others (offensive when we’re forced to sacrifice for the undeserving and dirty) we put down the sword (or gun) and pick up Calvary-type love.

One thing I love about Greg Boyd is that he makes mention that the only way to express these values and Calvary love is to spend time with God in the quiet places.  Many authors have great ideas and brilliant revelations about justice and mercy but don’t emphasize the value of being alone with Jesus.  I believe that Boyd knows what the Kingdom of God looks like because he knows Jesus so well.  Yes, he knows the scriptures.  Yes, he knows the theology and the greek translations (he’s a pretty smart as he is really Dr. Gregory A. Boyd with a degrees from the University of Minnesota, Yale Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary.  He was then a professor of theology at Bethel College in St. Paul.  Don’t be intimidated though, he writes in a friendly, easy-to-understand tone).  But this book is good because he knows Jesus.

An exert from Boyd’s thesis taken from the introduction:

“For some evangelicals, the kingdom of God is largely about, if not centered on, “taking America back for God,” voting for the Christian candidate, outlawing abortion, outlawing gay marriage, winning the culture war, defending political freedom at home and abroad, keeping the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, fighting for prayer in the public schools and at public events, and fighting to display the Ten Commandments in government buildings.

I will argue that this perspective is misguided, that fusing together the kingdom of God with this or any other version of the kingdom of the world is idolatrous and that this fusion is having serious negative consequences for Christ’s church and for the advancement of God’s kingdom.” – Dr. Gregory A. Boyd

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up to the minute

My Manhattan booty call

The purpose of this entry is twofold.

1.  I’m in New York City for the weekend.

2.  All my adventures can be found on my tumblr page.

No, this is in no way replacing my blog.  Absolutely not.  But Tumblr is just so much easier to keep everyone updated (kudos Tumblr iPhone app… take a hint WordPress and make your app halfway useable).  I can’t guarantee how up to date I will keep this tumblr page when I’m back to everyday life but let’s give it a shot.

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

A few comments about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy have really bothered me.

Sen. Chambliss’ (R-GA) bothering (and just bizarre) thoughts on what repealing DADT would mean

Focus on the Family on why the country doesn’t need this

However, Steve Wernick of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, has the right idea…particularly when he points out that “it cannot be God’s will to give gay men and lesbians less dignity than God has given the rest of us.”

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compassion in haiti

Jim Wallis of Sojourners is a contributor to the Washington Post’s On Faith section and recently posted a response to Pat Robertson’s remarks on Haiti.  His thoughts on the whereabouts of Jesus in Haiti can be found by clicking on the link.

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